Why do people of faith not pray for their enemies?

I have a question,I am not sure if this should be in the great debates or here.

If people that believe in prayer pray for the dead, and the victums of crimes.Why don’t they pray that the Taliban,Osama Ben Laden,and other despots, and criminals be led to the Truth,and understand that harming others for any reason is wrong,and pray for understanding of all peoples?


How do you know they don’t?

I would think that Christians, at least, pretty much have to. It says right there in the Sermon on the Mount:

Be like God. Love everybody. End of story. I don’t see any other plausible way of interpreting that piece of doctrine.

Oh btw, I always liked a certain modern paraphrase of that last part:

“The rain it falleth on the just,
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”

If just one person gets that rhyme stuck in their head for hours on end, I won’t have wasted my time here today. :smiley:

In my own religion, we don’t pray that others will agree with us (“be led to the Truth”). That’s too close to infringing on their Free Will. But I do pray that people will find a peaceful resolution to the conflicts all over the world, and I pray that those souls who have died and are going to die find peace and time to contemplate and learn from their lifetime, before reincarnating and perhaps being the keys to peace. I include Mr. Bin Laden, Mr. Bush and all those whose names I don’t know and faces I’ll never see in these prayers.

I do.

They do.

Mark Twain’s take on it.

That sums it up. Many of us try to do that, and do pray for them.

/pacifist Christian.

I do, and my wife and I have always instructed our Sunday School students (High School aged) to do the same.

We advise them to ask God to give their enemies what they (the enemies, that is) truly need. There’s not much else you can ask for on their behalf, really; almost any other form of prayer would be self-serving (“oh Lord, please let Billy not be such an idiot”).

Interestingly enough, I have never once considered praying for Bin Laden. Weak human that I am, I’m not sure I can bring myself to do it, but I’ll try.

My church (Roman Catholic) offered up a prayer that groups responsible for acts like London would come to see that it’s not the right path. I wish they would pray more for everyone killed in the Iraq war, but they tend to concentrate on United States soldiers.

I’ve prayed for Bin Laden (for the 9/11 attacks) and President Bush (for lying about Iraq). Basically, I prayed that these misguided people see the error of their ways, and stop doing wrong. This doesn’t mean that I’ll shed any tears if Osama gets wasted by US commandos, but it’s my Christian duty to pray for his soul, so I did it.

I have never attended a Christian service that did not include the Lord’s prayer, so I guess the answer is “we do”. And our Prayer of the Church last Sunday, and the devotions we did last night at my Mutual Ministry committee meeting, explicitly included both the victims of the London bombings and the perpetrators.

Of course, we also pray for justice in the world. FWIW.


I pray all the time for people who are doing evil to turn from their ways, and develop compassion and understanding.

It’s probably the second most common prayer I make, after asking for guidance and strength in my own life.

I know I prayed a lot around the election for Bush to find a better, more enlightened path. (On preview, this sounds like I’m saying that Bush is evil. I’m not sure about that, but I do strongly disagree with many of his policies, and I’ve prayed for him to change his mind about them.)

When I pray for a better world, that includes all of the people who are currently in conflict being able to resolve their differences.

As a data point, I’m Jewish.

Shortly after 9/11, the sign outside a large local church carried the message:
Join us Friday night in a prayer for “all” people.
I remember it because I wasn’t quite sure if they were actually praying for all people or not.

My grandfather is the most devout man I’ve ever met.
He acts Christian externally, and has not undertaken an act that appeared mean-spirited, at least during my nearly 30 ears of life.
I would assert that a proper Christian does not have enemies in the fashion that many atheists and most “improper” Christians (the ones that run around with signs saying GOD HATES FAGS) have enemies.
Opposing the actions of another for a worthy reason may make you an enemy of their cause. If the actions of another that you must oppose are (for instance) trying to take your life, you may take actions towards them that are violent, and indeed they would constitute your enemy at this point.
Nonetheless, I would argue that the purest kind of Christian I’ve ever seen would merely regard their enemies as “misguided”, and thus would come closer to pitying them than to being genuinely angry at them over any long term.
This goes to my conclusion: A proper Christian has no enemies he is mad enough to wish harm upon. Proper Christians may be rarer than Tucker automobiles.

When I was little my grandma would make sure us kids said our prayers b/f bed; I would say at the end… and God bless everybody -except the bad people, and Amen. -And my grandma would say, “No - prey especially the bad people casue they need it the most.”

I believe Jesus did mention that Christians are to pray for their enemies, and to love them too.

The Sermon on the Mount is a tough issue for any Christians.

I was implying that they pray that all people be led to know the truth,(Truth is what really is, not what we want it to be) not that any one person, or religion has it. If people are praying for their enemies and also pray that they can understand their enemies then perhaps we would have the peace that people have prayed for for centuries, Jesus prayed that all may be one,even as He and the Father were. His prayer wasn’t answered. I personally do not see a need for prayer if there is a supreme being who knows all things then he must like divisions. I think we should respect everyone’s right to their beliefs, I do not expect everyone to agree with mine. We use what we can to get along in this world and if we were all tolerant of each other and showed respect it may not cure all the world’s ills but it would be a start. If prayer works then why pray for things like winning a game etc. ask first that people respect each other and their beliefs,properties etc…

Make people more important than things.


I’m glad that Kimstu brought up the command to pray for one’s enemies. FWIW, here is #6 among the collection of prayers collected in the back of the Book of Common Prayer, to be used in common worship as appropriate: